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Interview Tips

Preparation: Know exactly where the company is and arrive 10 minutes early. Research the company. Most companies have their own website – ask for it. This shows initiative and interest. Before an interview, always know what the company does, who they service, what their products are, etc.

Appearance: Dress professionally. The number one reason people are not selected is poor personal appearance. Never assume that an office is casual – research the dress code before an interview. Nice slacks and a nice shirt and jacket is recommended. Never where low cut blouses. Never wear a hat. Be careful with short sleeves – they may look too informal; especially sun dresses, tank tops and muscle shirts. Cover visible tattoos. Take out visible body piercings. Do not wear heavy perfume/cologne. You want a very clean, fresh scent. Ensure that you are well groomed (clean fingernails and hair). Never chew gum. If you smoke, make sure you do not smell like cigarettes.

  • When speaking to the receptionist, be polite and courteous. They always pass on information to the interviewer – the good and the bad.

  • Always have an updated resume with you. Your resume should be a snapshot of your work experience – try to keep it to one page. If you have extensive experience (10+ years) at different locations, but in the same areas of expertise, try using the “Functional Resume” sample attached. The Functional Resume emphasizes your experience rather than the places you've worked. Your resume should be word processed with spell check, Times New Roman font, 10-12 point size, quality paper, and 8X11 inches. Always include equipment and/or software programs you've used. Some resume pet peeves include: leaving out dates, wrinkled/dirty, no chronological listing of work, overstatement of responsibility, too much detail, graphics, fancy or hard to read font, typos, misspellings, “fluff wording”, personal data or potentially discriminatory data, disorganized, too long, poor organization, covering up gaps in employment. If the interviewer finds an error or typo on your resume, do not make excuses. Apologize and tell them you'll get them a new resume. If the interviewer has resume or interview tips for you, always thank them for the constructive criticism. (See sample resumes: “Historical” and “Functional”)

  • Bring a notepad, binder or briefcase with you (this shows organization and professionalism).

  • Have other applicable information with you in case they ask you for it; cover letter (see sample cover letter), professional references (see sample professional reference list), copies of reference letters, phone numbers of past supervisors, copies of typing and/or 10 key tests, copies of certificates of completion, copies of transcripts, etc. Never ask the receptionist or interviewer to make copies for you. You should have multiple copies of resumes, letters, tests, etc. in your binder - this shows organization and forethought.

  • You may be asked to complete an application – never leave blanks – even if you have a resume. How you complete the application is one of the key factors for making a good first impression. You should have a "master job application form" in advance and keep it with you when completing application forms. This master serves as a template from which to copy information. It saves you from remembering places and dates of employment, important information, names of supervisors, telephone numbers, or having to reinvent terminology about job duties. When there is a space for an answer that is not applicable, write "N/A" (for "not applicable"). This shows the interviewer that you read the question and did not overlook it. If possible, complete the job application form at home or download it from an employer's website. This form is "sacred" to the company and will become part of your personnel file if you are hired; it is important to complete it legibly and completely. If you have poor penmanship, print.

  • If you brought your spouse, partner, parents, etc. with you, never ask to bring them into the room with you. Never bring children to an interview.

  • Shake hands with the interviewer when introductions are made – firmly, but not bone crushing. Shake with confidence – your handshake should not be limp.

  • Make a good first impression. Smile! People want to hire happy people with positive attitudes. Be enthusiastic – react to the interviewer's questions and comments (smile, nod or respond). Have a sense of humor.

  • You may be asked to take an aptitude, personality test, or basic skills tests (spelling, filing, software) – always be open to any kind of test.

  • Always maintain eye contact, but do not stare. Sit tall with good posture. Do not slump or fidget. Relax and remain calm, but do not appear to be lazy.

  • NEVER BRING A CELL PHONE INTO THE BUILDING WITH YOU. Any information you may need in the cell phone should be written down on your “master application” (above).

  • Answer each question honestly and concisely with good diction and grammar. Take your time and listen to each question carefully before answering. If the interviewer asks you to tell them about yourself, be brief and include current goals. If the interviewer asks why they should hire you, focus on the company's needs and how your experience can help them meet their needs. Emphasize your skills/qualities that are important to the type of work they do. When telling the interviewer about your strengths, have the experience to back it up. Do not be boastful. Aim for earnest. Employers admire candidates that are dependable, a team player, responsible, a self-starter, a quick learner, get along with others, work well under pressure, and are efficient.

  • If you're asked about your weaknesses, don't say “I don't have any.” Everyone does. Be candid, and discuss the steps you've taken to improve. Be brief.

  • Do not be a “name dropper”. The emphasis should never be on who you know.

  • Do not, under any circumstances, “bad mouth” your past employers or co-workers.

  • If you have personal issues that are making you unhappy (family life, boy/girlfriend, friction with parents, kids, etc.), do not discuss it during the interview. Leave your personal life outside the door.

  • Don't bring up future vacation plans – vacation should not be expected during the probationary period. If you're going through an employment service, always share preplanned vacation with the Placement Counselor, so they can get it approved before the interview is scheduled.

  • Never bring up your age or religion. It is irrelevant and may make the interviewer uncomfortable.

  • Save questions for the end of the interview. If your only question has to do with money or benefits, do not ask! The interviewer wants to know that you are interested in the job, not just the wage/benefits. Ask questions about the position. If the interviewer asks what you expect in salary, deflect the question by inquiring about the salary for the position. If they press you further, give a range between your minimum accepted salary and the salary you want. If you're working with an employment service, the interviewer should already know your minimum wage desired.

  • If you're switching jobs, do not expect the same salary. There's a probationary period and/or training period involved with any move. Be willing to start at the bottom and be open to any potential position. Interviewers are turned off by people that expect too much too soon.

  • If the interviewer asks about your future plans/goals, don't get too detailed. Employers are usually looking for people that are ready, willing and able to make a commitment. Let the interviewer know that you are planning to be fully committed. You can also talk about the challenges you want – things that are important to you professionally and how you plan to achieve them.

  • If the interviewer asks you a strange question, do not question the interviewer. There may not be a right answer to the question. They may want to see how you react under pressure and how well you handle the unexpected.

  • Ask the interviewer for their business card. If the interviewer has not told you about the rest of the interview process, ask them what to expect next. If you're working with an employment service, call the Placement Counselor and give them feedback from the interview so they can share the information with the company.

  • Always thank the interviewer for their time, and reinforce your interest in the position. Another handshake is permissible.

  • Send a Thank You note right after the interview. This will show them that you are sincerely interested in the position, and willing to put in extra effort. Always keep your note brief and to the point. (see sample Thank You letter – for a more personal touch, write a note in a Thank You card)